Although Nihal Fares was already an entrepreneur in Egypt before participating in the 2013 TechWomen program, she said her TechWomen experience taught her to become a better leader for her company and changemaker in her community by giving her a “great opportunity to connect with successful women and learn about entrepreneurship in the biggest startup hub in the world.”
Recognizing the immense talent in Egypt, Nihal helped launch Eventtus, a social platform which enables users to identify events and opportunities to network with like-minded people who can help them achieve their goals. Eventtus was met with great enthusiasm in Egypt and had begun to establish a strong presence in the region, but Nihal wanted the platform to reach even more people. She sought to gain a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of not only starting and managing a company, but expanding it on a global scale. Her TechWomen mentorship helped her to do just that. Placed at the headquarters of Google, Inc. in Mountain View, CA, Nihal had the opportunity to explore various aspects of one of the largest—and what she called the most innovative—technology companies in the world from the inside out.
While learning about the tech giant’s business strategy and observing its operations, Nihal gained an appreciation for Google’s company culture and its emphasis on diversity. She attributed the innovation and success of the company—and Silicon Valley itself—to its people-centered management philosophy which fosters openness and collaboration. She explained, “In Egypt, people only see the management of a company. Not everyone is involved with the company vision. In the US, everyone feels so encouraged to have some ownership in the company and its vision, that they want to give more and do give more.” This discovery deeply impacted Nihal. She felt inspired to adopt this people-centered approach in her own company back home. “Focus on the people, especially the people who work for you,” she advised. “It’s not just about the technology or the things you do. It’s the way you treat people.”
In addition to her mentorship at Google, Nihal took advantage of the many opportunities in the Bay Area to network and find ways to improve and expand her business. She was selected to speak at a Women 2.0 Founder Fridayevent in San Francisco during the first week of the program. In front of a packed room with more than 200 female business founders and tech enthusiasts, Nihal shared her story of founding Eventtus and pitched her business. The thorough and constructive feedback she received for her pitch and business plan from fellow entrepreneurs and industry experts in attendance made this event one of most rewarding parts of the program for her.
With this feedback, Nihal fine-tuned her pitch and presented it again at TechWadi’s Middle East Innovation Demo Day in San Francisco. To her great surprise, she won the pitch contest and was awarded a scholarship to attend a unique, one-month boot camp for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Nihal said that this would not have been possible without the valuable advice she received from TechWomen Mentors, investors, and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, and the exposure and endless opportunities presented to her through the TechWomen program.
Nihal summed up her TechWomen experience as “amazing—both professionally and personally, and also in terms of the impact on my startup in Egypt.” During the TechWomen program, she observed firsthand the way a successful, innovative, and global company like Google operates, received support and helpful feedback about both the product and business sides of her company, and perfected her business pitch and presentation. Now, Nihal seeks to focus her efforts on propelling her startup to the next level and “building a culture that encourages innovation and collaboration” in her company and community. In doing so, she hopes to help bridge the technology gap between the United States and the Middle East. While this is no small feat, Nihal is certainly the right person for the task.